LVAD Traveling MythsWed, 12/14/2011 - 9:57PM
Myth #1: I can't travel with an LVAD, I need to stay close to my implanting center.
Absolutely not! LVADs that are implanted today are designed to allow you to live your life to the fullest. If that involves travel, go for it, as long as you remember some basic guidelines.
Myth #2: I cannot travel on an airplane with my LVAD.
Yes, you can travel on an airplane! All of the devices used today are safe for airplane travel. Again, some basic guidelines need to be followed. Always check with your LVAD team to make sure you are healthy enough for travel and to help you plan for emergencies. Pack your LVAD equipment in carry-on luggage with wheels and make sure that it is with you at all times. Bring the appropriate documents with you from your LVAD team so that if you are asked for information about your LVAD you can readily provide it. Board the plane early, you are a person who "needs extra time boarding the aircraft" and this ensures that you get overhead compartment space near your seat. Make sure to keep your back-up bag with extra controller and batteries with you at all times. When planning your trip, use our LVAD Supported Hospital Map to locate centers around your travel destination.
Myth #3: I cannot travel on a cruise ship with my LVAD.
Cruises are the perfect vacation for many with an LVAD. Cruise ships are able to safely accommodate your LVAD equipment power needs. There are a few things to remember when taking a cruise with an LVAD. Notify the cruise company when you make your reservation that you have an LVAD and provide them with a brief description of the device and how it works. Make sure to keep your external equipment with you in a carry-on bag. Do not give it to the ship stewards to deliver to your room as it may take hours before it reaches your room. When you board the ship go to the ship's infirmary to show the medical staff your device as well as give them some instruction on how to assist you in the event that it is needed. Make sure you always have your LVAD travel documents readily available. Lastly, remember to wear sunscreen and however tempting it may be, stay out of the water!
Myth #4: I will not make it past TSA with all of my LVAD equipment.
Yes, you will make it through TSA with your LVAD. Again, make sure you have paperwork from your LVAD team with you and give yourself extra time at the airport (we suggest at least two hours). Notify them you can not go through the metal detector and request an pat-down inspection. Visit the TSA website for more information.
Traveling with an LVAD takes a little more time, planning and organization. Tell us your stories about traveling with your LVAD in the comments below.